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Broadband Access

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what financial assistance has been provided to (a) local authorities and (b) regional development agencies to encourage internet service providers to roll out broadband internet facilities to villages and small towns throughout the United Kingdom; [62100]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 18 June 2002]: The Government have made available a £30 million fund to help the Regional Development Agencies and devolved Administrations develop innovative schemes to extend broadband networks.

The Government's broadband strategy was set out in the UK Online annual report, and included measures to maximise competition in the broadband market and facilitate easy access to broadband services.

Structural Funds can also be used for broadband access projects provided they meet the criteria set out in the Single Programming Documents agreed with the Commission for each English region and the devolved Administrations.

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Export Finance (Energy Production)

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his answer of 10 June 2002, Official Report, column 978W, on export finance, if she will list (a) the project name, (b) the country location, (c) the capacity in MW, (d) the estimated carbon emissions and (e) the value of the loan guaranteed for the seven coal-fired power stations for which the ECGD has provided Overseas Investment Insurance and other insurance. [63324]

Ms Hewitt: It is ECGD policy not to publish details of cases involving Overseas Investment Insurance or other insurance facilities. This is to protect ECGD's own operations as there is a risk that knowledge by the buyer of the presence of export related insurance may increase the risk of action that may lead to a claim being paid. Details of insurance are also commercially sensitive on the part of the UK exporter or investor, as the presence of investment or export related insurance may harm their relationship with their buyer, local partner or the host Government. The same sensitivities do not apply so much to ECGD's guarantee or finance facilities as by nature these are usually more complex products and all parties will generally be aware of the presence of ECGD support. This approach is consistent with that adopted by export credit agencies in other countries.

According to information already published the insurance cases in respect of seven coal-fired power stations involved a total capacity of 4,960 MW and annual CO 2 emissions of approximately 17.9 million tonnes per year.

Coal Plant (Philippines)

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the ECGD has received (a) an application for support and (b) an expression of interest from UK firms for possible ECGD support regarding the proposed coal plant at Pulupandan in Negros Occidental, the Philippines. [63197]

Ms Hewitt: ECGD has no record of any applications for support or any expressions of interest from UK firms in relation to this project.

Energy Consumption

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the estimated level of energy consumption was per square metre within the UK in (a) commercial, (b) retail and (c) Government offices in each year since 1997. [63374]

Mr. Wilson: Figures are as shown in the table.

Gigajoules per square metre per year

Energy consumption19972000
Commercial offices0.880.91
Retail sector1.000.98
Government sector1.091.05

These figures are from the Building Research Establishment (BRE). Figures for 2000 were published in BRE's Report "Carbon Dioxide Emissions from non- Domestic Buildings: 2000 and beyond". Comparable figures are not available for 1998 and 1999.

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World Trade

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her answer of 26 February 2002, Official Report, column 1129W, on the WTO, if she will make a statement on progress with measures to make the WTO more transparent and open and its rules easier to understand, including details of measures proposed by the UK Government. [63440]

Ms Hewitt: On 14 May 2002—after four years of negotiation—WTO members agreed improved procedures for the circulation and derestriction of WTO documents. This marks an important step forward in making its operations more transparent.

The UK Government supported moves towards even greater relaxation of the rules on restricting documents, but some other WTO members, not least from developing countries, remain concerned about the implications for their negotiating positions within the organisation and the practicalities for smaller delegations.

The UK Government believes that greater transparency and openness both within the WTO and with Civil Society—while preserving the Inter-governmental nature of the organisation—can only bring benefits in strengthening and explaining the system of multi-lateral trade rules.

The UK also actively supports measures to improve the ability of developing countries to participate fully in the WTO negotiations and, more generally their capacity to understand and implement WTO rules. The 2000 White Paper on International Development "Eliminating World Poverty—Making Globalisation Work for the Poor", commits the UK to providing £45 million of support to Trade Related Technical Assistance and Capacity Building in 1998–2003. To date £37.8 million of this has been formally committed.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the annual cost to developing countries of TRIPS. [63426]

Ms Hewitt: My Department has made no specific assessment of the annual cost of developing countries of TRIPS.

Telecommunications Council

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the outcome was of the Telecommunications Council held on 18 June; what the Government's stance was on the issues discussed, including their voting record; and if she will make a statement. [63600]

Mr. Timms: I represented the UK at the Telecommunications Council in Luxembourg on 18 June.

There was a policy debate on the Commission's eEurope 2005 Action Plan. The presidency forwarded conclusions to the Seville European Council on 21–22 June. The Commission emphasised the potential economic and social benefits of widespread access to interactive information society services, and the adaptability of the Action Plan to the needs of an enlarged EU in due course. The Commission also stressed the importance of content development, and parallel work to make the information society accessible to the disabled. I spoke in support of the

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Action Plan's dual focus on markets for broadband access, as well as on the demand for applications, content and service provision, and asked the council to signal its full commitment to the Action Plan.

On the reform of ICANN, the private sector company based in the United States that manages the internet domain name system, there was unanimous agreement among member states that ICANN's role should be limited to core technical functions and that the role of the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) should be strengthened and internationalised to ensure that public policy issues remain the concern primarily of the GAC rather than ICANN. The negotiating remit agreed by member states earlier this month under COREPER's mandate from the March Telecommunications Council will be used by the Commission in the continuing ICANN reform negotiations at Bucharest later this month and in Shanghai in October.

The council reached political agreements on two proposed Decisions on the Interchange of Data between Administrations (IDA) and adopted a Decision on telecoms Trans European Networks (TENs) without the need for a vote. There was also an agreement on a general approach to the extension of the Safer Internet Action Plan, now known as eSafe, on which the presidency will now try to pursue a first reading deal with the European Parliament. The council also agreed conclusions on the new internet protocol IPv6.

The Commission gave a presentation on the state of play on the Commission instruments needed to complete the new communications package: significant market power (SMP) guidelines are likely to be adopted in June; a public consultation on the Commission's recommendation on relevant markets has been launched, and is expected to be adopted in September; decisions establishing a European Regulators Group and Radio Spectrum Policy Group are expected in June; a Commission directive on competition in telecoms markets is expected before the summer.

There were presentations from the Commission on its proposal for a directive on the re-use and commercial exploitation of public sector information, and on its 11 June 2002 communication on the roll-out of third generation mobile access and services. The Commission also gave short presentations on the Eutelsat privatisation process, and on open platforms for digital television and 3G mobile on which a Communication is expected at the end of this year.

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